The chefs inside Godfather’s Pizza’s kitchen crown Original, Thin, Mozza-Loaded, and gluten-free crusts with fistfuls of more than 15 meat and veggie toppings. Predesigned pies simulate the flavors of other foods in configurations such as the Bacon-Cheeseburger Pizza with beef, bacon, cheddar, pickles, and onions. Sandwiches and hot wings round out feasts. In the dining room at some locations, ice clatters cheerily from Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, which dispense more than 100 flavors of soda as well as resumé advice for robot bartenders. Delivery drivers bustle past, filling orders or toting catered fare, and Godfather’s Pizza brims with happy chatter during field trips that introduce students to the pizza-creation process.
Lorraine Williams is a firm believer in the power of positive energy. That's why she consulted a feng shui expert in China while designing her restaurant and why she named that restaurant after the Italian word for 12—the number around which we structure time, measurements, and music. Cafe Dodici has since thrived under her influence, attracting diners from far and wide with its good vibes and Italian meals. The Iowan even estimates that 85% of its visitors are from out of town, and recounts how an Illinois couple has stayed in the upstairs guest suite for Valentine's day for the last four years.
The menu keeps its dishes simple, steering clear of ingredients that tend to overwhelm the palate, such as salt, garlic, and Junior Mints. Instead, the kitchen lets its clove- and nutmeg-spiced tomato sauce speak for itself. In the sugo di carne, the sauce covers ground beef and pork mixed with tagliatelle pasta, but you can also order it as part of a classic: house-made meatballs and spaghetti. Other entrees include spinach- and gouda-stuffed chicken roulades, a roasted half-duck in an orange-rosemary glaze, and lobster-stuffed ravioli. And, should you stop by before dinnertime, the café serves lunch sandwiches as well as baked goods and coffee in its adjoining shop.
A third generation of the Foggia family helms Gino's Food & Restaurants, which still cooks the recipes founder Gino Foggia first created in 1966. At the restaurant's Des Moines and West Des Moines locations, chefs stuff housemade ravioli with meat, layer lasagna with housemade meatballs, and toss freshly rolled cavatelli with sausages made onsite. Other pasta dishes, such as chicken marsala served over linguine, join pan-seared fish and the kitchen's signature steak de burgo, which comprises two fillet medallions with butter-garlic de burgo sauce, on the menu of Italian favorites. Wines, martinis, and desserts such as spumoni complement meals with the charm of two mismatched but lovable roommates.
Angelo's Pizza's sunlit dining room fills with the aroma of thin crust pizzas baking and Cincinnati-style chili simmering. As specialty thin crust pies rise within a vintage 1947 oven, pots of what the Des Moines Register called "great melting pot chili" bubble on stoves. In the Cincinnati tradition, customers can order the sweet, thin concoction with cheese, spaghetti, diced onions, kidney beans, or shredded Ohio road atlases. Co-owner Mark Nicola brought the dish to the restaurant, drawing on his childhood devotion to the Cincinnati Reds and fondness for their home city's unusual breed of chili.
It's a cozy family restaurant, but The Garden Grill serves up contemporary, elegantly plated dishes that rival those of any fine-dining establishment. The menu of upscale casual cuisine draws on global inspirations: Old-World italian pastas, including an italian-sausage rigatoni; Mexican classics, such as fish tacos; and hand-cut steaks. Pizzas sport both traditional and creative toppings, such as the Pacific pizza's mascarpone-cheese sauce, shrimp, scallops, mushrooms, green onions, and mozzarella. Because the menu runs the gamut from filet mignon to sandwiches, The Garden Grill is an ideal backdrop for all sorts of occasions—be it a romantic dinner date with a special someone or a casual business lunch with the puppet you've been hired to voice.
Cranky Hank's slathers taste buds with its menu of pizzas and homespun classics, as well as a lunch buffet for midday diners. Customers can accessorize their own dough disks ($18.95, 16" with two toppings) with a cast of toppings that stars pepperoni, bacon, green pepper, and pineapple. Nosh on an assortment of inspired specialty pizzas ($14.95, 12"), such as the B Cranky with barbecue beef, bacon, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese, or use them as fancy coasters. Cranky Hank's sandwiches enshrine ingredients in homemade bread, presenting venerable amalgamations such as the italian-beef sandwich, which features a customer-dictated combination of green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and cheese, alongside a serving of au jus and fries ($8.75).